Series: Embassy Row #1
Published by Scholastic Inc. Australia on January 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
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A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.
This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.
Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
There is one thing I need to say about this book: All Fall Down is not about spies, political espionage or global conspiracy. These things are over-emphasised based on its setting of foreign embassies. What it’s actually about, is a girl suffering from PTSD after witnessing her mother’s murder 10 years ago who clearly needs closure.
There is a steep learning curve to the book, as we’re given minimal information to introduce Grace as she arrives in the country of Adria. It took me a while to get my head around everything, and we’re expected to piece two and two together ourselves. Grace’s granddad is a high profile diplomat and she’s been sent to live with him in an embassy, in the home she lived at as a child. She is convinced she needs to solve her mother’s murder mystery, and begins pursuing the perceived killer.
“Congratulations,” I tell her with a slight bow. “I hope you and your power trip will be very happy together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go.”
Grace was a quirky character who did nothing to convince me that she wasn’t crazy. She’s incredibly impulsive, headstrong and reckless, who is a lot more damaged than she lets on. Her internal dialogue was fascinating, revealing that of an unreliable narrator who withholds certain truths just to justify her behaviour. She will put herself in danger and go against authority to pursue her mother’s killer, but she actually has the veracity to convince others to go along with her. The fact that Grace was so fixated and even begins stalking was quite disturbing. But Grace is not supposed to be a character that we understand, or even symphasise with, and I think that’s realistic of someone suffering from trauma.
Life in a foreign embassy was actually pretty interesting. Grace’s friends are all from different nations, and merely showing up at one of their embassies (such as Russia) could lead to political tension, misunderstandings or perceived threats. While the political environment of the countries were quite similar to our own (such as America, Russia and Iran), I wish there was more world building about Adria itself, as it was posed as one of the world’s leading nations. This would have helped me understand Adria’s positioning between USA and UK a lot more, as I was lost on some of the finer idiosyncrasies which did come into play in the story.
This is not a murder mystery or much of a thriller, it’s more a story about a damaged girl who needs to find out the truth to heal. Once I understood that, I adjusted my expectations and I wasn’t surprised with the direction of the book or the ending, which is something that’s been done before. I was pleased with the absence of romance as Grace is dealing with enough as it is. That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be sexy Russian guys with intense stares, though.
I wanted so much more out of the book, and I was disappointed after finding out what it was actually about. I did end up enjoying it, even though it was a bit predictable. All Fall Down is a quick, snappy and intelligent read, where you will start to question what you know and put two and two together. Just don’t expect there to be much spying or political espionage, unless stalking other embassies counts (and apparently it does here).
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.